DAVE KEMP admitted the management team had mixed feelings after the close of the January transfer window… but believes the signings of Brek Shea and Jack Butland add quality to the ever-growing nucleus of young players at the Club.
Stoke City’s Assistant Manager did confess that they fell a couple of deals short of what they wanted to achieve on Thursday’s deadline-day despite the double-swoop for England international Butland and former FC Dallas winger Shea.
He says that despite the pair’s huge potential for the future, there is slight concern about the depth of the squad, especially in defensive quarters following the departure of Matthew Upson to Brighton on a loan until the end of the season.
“We’ve bought in two excellent young players but they are both for the future,” said Kemp at his pre-match press conference for the Arsenal game on Friday morning.
“Obviously we’re delighted to have them but there were immediate issues that we didn’t manage to put right. We let two senior players go out on the premise that we were bringing players in, but it didn’t work out.
“The two deals are both very good deals for the football Club on that front, though, and they add to the quality that we’ve already got.”
Kemp believes the transfer of Butland, who became England’s youngest ever goalkeeper last year when he played 45 minutes against Italy in a friendly, is a particular highlight and indicates the Club’s commitment to investing in the future.
“I would say it’s a coup that he wanted to come to Stoke City,” he added.
“We have a core of young players at the Club. That means others can look and say to themselves that ‘Stoke’s a good place to go and improve my career’.
“The manager has done very well on deadline-day – that’s all part of it and he’s very good at his job. We’re not doing somersaults though because we feel we have come up short in other areas.”
On tomorrow’s trip to the Emirates Stadium, Kemp highlighted the challenge City will face but believes they have been close to getting something from the North London club in their two most recent games.
“Going to Arsenal at any time is a tough proposition – they have a fantastic record against the teams outside the top four, and us being one of those means you’re staring down the barrel a bit when you go there,” he said.
“You know how difficult it’s going to be, but the last two times we’ve been there have been our best two efforts. Last year, it was 1-1 on 75 minutes before Robin van Persie exploded into life and took the game away from us.
“The year before, we lost 1-0 but could have got something from that evening. It is a very difficult place to go.”
While the 59-year-old recognises the poor form that has seen the Potters go five games in the Premier League without a win, he believes that fluctuation is all part of a normal season.
“In a football season, you’re going to play 40 or 50 games, and you have your highs and lows – if you had a graph on the wall, it would be going up and down all the time.
“Unfortunately at the moment we’re on that downward slope. It starts to go up and some stage, though, and hopefully that can start tomorrow.”